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Golfing at Cape Kidnapper

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This entry was posted on 12/20/2006 5:52 PM and is filed under New Zealand.

Golfing at Cape Kidnappers,Te Awanga, Hawkes Bay, North Island, NZ

When you get to this sign and gate, you are given a code and entry pass, and then drive 8 kilometers up to the course through a working sheep and cattle ranch to get to the golf course. About 600 cows and over 2000 sheep wander the grounds.

This magnificent area is called Cape Kidnappers because of Captain Cook's cabin boy.  Captain Cook came to shore to interact with the Maori.  When they saw his dark skinned cabin boy, they immediately thought that he was one of their own kind who had been kidnapped by the foreigner, so they grabbed him and tried to hold him captive.  Captain Cook shot at them and they released his boy and off they went.  It was the Captain himself who named the bay, Cape Kidnappers after the Maoris who tried to take his favorite cabin boy.

We couldn't resist playing a round at this magnificent course ranked #27 in beauty in the world.  The course was designed by Tom Doak, the hottest architect in modern golf (says the GOLF magazine).  He also designed the Kauri Cliffs Course in the Bay of Islands that we wished we had played too.

An American named Julian Robertson, "The Wizard of Wall Street", purchased 6000 acres of land and took 18 months to build this course.  He is in the process of turning it into a major golf resort. Building on the Lodge has already started.  They only allow 50 people to play this course everyday and send them out 15 minutes apart, so there is never a sense of rushing.  On the day we played we almost had the whole course to ourselves.  Only 10 people had gone out that day and we were the last ones to tee off, so no one was behind us rushing us at all and there were only 2 people many holes ahead of us. 

The course was magnificent and lush.  Beautiful fairways, fabulous backdrops of the ocean and the cliffs and some unforgettable greens.  It was really a special day.  Our favorite hole was the one where these 4 spectators watched our every shot, probably muttering to themselves about our swings. (Pause a moment on this picture...)


A few more images from the course...

The course was a mix of rugged and beautiful.  The combination of the privacy, the difficulty of the course, the wide open grass meadows, the ocean cliffs to your side for the majority of holes, and the baaa's and mooo's of the cows and sheep throughout the ranch was a magnificent experience.
For instance, right next to one of the holes, you look out and see this majestic view...

The American owner has decided to turn these 6000 acres into a natural preservation.  So they are in the process of constructing a fence that runs the whole length of the 6000 acres.  This fence is made up of wire mesh that extends about a meter into the ground.  The whole purpose is to keep out rats, stoats, ferrets and other destructive creatures.   The fence runs 9 kilometers around the entire circumference of the property, at a cost of $200 NZD per meter (that's about $140 a yard).  Wow!

and here's a close-up view - note the fine mesh and the curvy part at the top.  The fence lying on the ground will be buried to prevent the critters from burrowing underneath it...

So for the last 4 years they've been setting out traps to catch these predator animals and do away with them.  Once the fence is up and completed, they'll release kiwis and special tropical birds into this area and hope that they survive.  They'll monitor the rat and other destructive vermin population to keep it from growing and create a safe and healthy environment for the kiwi and birds.  They have 4000 electronic monitoring systems throughout the 6000 acres.  Impressive project.

By the way, speaking of golf....

Throughout New Zealand there are lots of "Honor Courses" - either 9 or 18 hole courses that don't have a clubhouse or any people there to check you in or course marshalls.  Just a box where you put your course fees in on the honor system, and play away on your own.  Imagine that in the states!

Here was one golf course we saw on our drive down to Wellington that had a unique system for maintaining the fairways...

There is a little rope around the greens to keep the sheep off them, but they seem to be doing the job of mowing the grass everywhere else...

And I guess they also create their own system of hazards too...

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